Anna Bay potter Ashley Fiona taking part in Australian Ceramics' open studio event

COMING full circle is an important theme in artist Ashley Fiona’s life at the moment, whether she realises it or not.

The potter recently moved back to Anna Bay, where she grew up, to be closer to her dad.

The ashkeepers she specialises in making are a spherical design to symbolise the circle of life and death.

And this weekend she will take part in Australian Ceramics’ open studio event, which is an event she started when working for the association after finishing university.

Ms Fiona will throw open the doors to her home studio this weekend and is inviting the community to pop by and have a chat about her work.

“I’m hoping everyone and anyone comes by for a bit of a stickybeak,” she said.

“The world of a ceramic artist is a little bit mysterious to people on the outside. This is an opportunity to get a behind the scenes glimpse into what we do.

“There’s also a community aspect to it. I’ve just moved back and want to try and create my own community.”

At 18 years old, Ms Fiona moved away from Anna Bay.

After spending some time travelling, she moved to Sydney where she studied a Bachelor of Fine Arts at COFA, which is now the University of NSW Art and Design.

It was during her University rotation where she worked with different mediums that Ms Fiona was introduced to ceramics, and when she fell in love with it.

“Clay is an incredibly seductive material,” she said.

“It’s a meditative practice. It really forces you to take your time and to let go, as well.

“You have to be able to let a piece go because if you get too attached to the pieces you create, you’re going to suffer heartbreak.

“You might spend days creating one piece that might crack in the kiln.”

Ms Fiona creates a variety of ceramic pieces – mugs, plates, jewelry.

But her niche is ashkeepers – her own kind of urn for the ashes of loved ones.

“My mum died when I was 13. We had this ugly plastic box to hold her ashes. We never looked at it. It was always hidden in a drawer,” she said.

“Twelve years later my granddad, my mum’s dad, died and my grandma was not really impressed with what his ashes were in.

“By that stage I had my ceramic training and I thought I would make something a little bit more beautiful.”

Her first ashkeeper, for her grandfather’s ashes, was too small. So, Ms Fiona started doing her research.

There was a period, when living on the Central coast, Ms Fiona stopped making anything at all. 

She started to compare her work to others and rethinking the direction she was headed.

“I couldn’t see the point in making piece to add clutter to the world,” she said.

“I started thinking outside the box and decided to make a larger ashkeeper. I thought if I could make theses pieces that in some way heal people, create something that helps people, then I would be adding something to the world. And that’s been a really important part of my healing as well.”

Ms Fiona will open her studio between 10am and 3pm on Saturday and Sunday. Visit her at 9 Seabreeze Close, Anna Bay.